[4 January 2007]
Written in both Iceland and his native France, musician David Grumel’s debut explores a musical palette that runs with the colours of cool jazz, some low-key beat-science, and a generous sweep of Bacharach strings. Pluming with an airy atmosphere that recalls a drifting cloud, Beaurivage opens with the Dimitri from Paris-inspired rhythm of its title track, before sinking into the more supple grooves of numbers like “Brand New Pop Song”, “Until the End of Time”, and the winsome instrumental “Lifestyle”. At first spin, the album seems plaintive and simple, but deceptively so. Grumel’s voice, oddly pitched somewhere between Chet Baker and Nina Simone, imbues the songs with a ghostly frost that shimmers beneath the glacial sheen of their pop production gloss. The album’s triumph comes in the form of a loose take on Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.” Re-titled here as “Magnolias”, the song channels Holiday’s ghost from beneath the many layered bed of sounds and, like the pea under the princess’ mattress, stirs in the listener an aching unrest.